Europe’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: A historical analysis

Make no mistake about it, Hamas and only Hamas is recently responsible for carrying out the senseless slaughter of innocent Israelis. Terrorism Is something Indians have seen too much of themselves. Thus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s quick and profound response to extend condolences on behalf of Indians to Israelis is well done. However, to understand […]

Make no mistake about it, Hamas and only Hamas is recently responsible for carrying out the senseless slaughter of innocent Israelis. Terrorism Is something Indians have seen too much of themselves. Thus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s quick and profound response to extend condolences on behalf of Indians to Israelis is well done.

However, to understand the conflicts of present, it can be useful to know the true historical roots and context to them. I will argue that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been primarily initially rooted in and even caused by Europe. And the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians are the victims to it. And Europe, therefore, needs to do tangibly much more to help end this conflict.

For now, it is obvious that Hamas should renounce using terrorism as the Palestine Liberation Organization did decades ago. For Israel, it is to work harder where possible for a two state solution, already endorsed by the United Nation to establish a sovereign Palestinian state.

Let us remember in all of this, it is the pursuit of truth that is considered one of the main pillars of Mahatma Gandhi thought, as well of avoiding violence both of which can be interdependent and be inspiring to conflict resolution such as in the Middle East. All of this is most applicable to the current tragedy Israel has so horribly experienced. This evil wickedness time and time again needs closure, as well as to what innocent Palestinian civilians have experienced.

In a small way, the analysis that follows here will hopefully give more than a greater understanding and truth of the real source of the first ignitions to this conflict between Arabs and Jews. But will give a further pathway for and reason for brotherhood and sisterhood and just common bonds between overall Israelis and Palestinians, two Semitic groups in common victim-hood.

This bonding is clearly so much needed and consistent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of inclusion, than mutual repulsion between peoples and violence and war as an outcome. That there should be further to Prime Minister Modi’s idea of seeing the world as one family rather than simply a bunch of maniacal, ethnocentric tribes and nations looking towards wiping each other out. And those who facilitate such hatred and terrorism are the worst of the worst. India knows this truly and so should more states know this better, too.
I will also argue that a main “arsonist” of this war is indeed, Europe, primarily historically. Indians (and many others) knowing how European colonialism was so wretched for them, also need to better know how Europe had been so in creating the demon seed for this truly awful Israeli-Palestinian conflict of many decades. And furthermore, what needs to be done by Europe to help Palestinians. In fact, these two main victim people of (past) European oppression and racism deserve empathy and assistance, both short and long term in beneficial ways.

Let us start with a brief relevant history in Europe.The persecution and pogroms against Jews there had a very long and disgusting history, well before Hitler’s genocidal armies stormed through much of Europe in the late 1930s to early to mid- 40s. In fact, the heightened persecution of Jews had already accelerated in the 19th century and become so bad. That is so much so that a leader named Theodor Hertzl and associates concluded that the Jewish people needed their own homeland to go to, so as to guarantee their protection.

The movement to press for such is called Zionism. With regard to biblical references, they believed in the end that this should be Palestine in the Middle East where ancient Jewish communities were started and already existed. From then on Jews began to move to Palestine in serious numbers and the movement gained strength. Before that movement took off, there were only 23,000 Jews living there.(Aliyah, Wikipedia and notes) Even the numbers gained only to around 80,000 by 1907. During British colonial control of Palestine, not far after the end of the Ottoman empire, in around 1919 and ending around 1948, the influx increased significantly. But the British for much of that mandate were not making it so easy to welcome immigrating Jews.

Nevertheless, say around the end of World War ll, the Jewish population had substantially grown to around 400,000, that is over 30 years of British occupation. During that period there were a number of serious conflicts between Jewish settlers and Palestine Arabs. However there was no overall civil war to speak of between the two in the territory until around 1948, one might argue.

Statistics from Wikipedia further show substantial influxes of Jews in the early World War II years by hundreds of thousands and especially added to over several post war years. That was largely a response to the aftermath of Europe wide fascism and in particular, Hitler’s concentration camps where European Jews were starved to death and even cremated alive by the many millions. As a consequence of this massive abject evil, the Jewish Zionist movement gained great impetus and strength, finally resulting in the US being the first in 1948 (not Europe) recognizing Herzl’s Zionist dream of a sovereign homeland in Palestine for the Jewish people, Israel. Unfortunately, after this declaration of Israel independence, Arab Palestinians there then felt even more “swamped” and their identity threatened as many jurisdictions can feel with massive immigration inflows of “others”.

So, unfortunately, Arabs countries in supposed support of Palestinians feeling encroached upon, declared war in 1948 against Israel, the same day of its independence. The Arabs lost that war in trying to get the Jewish settlers evicted and/or prevented from having their own state. The consequence was that Israel saw those Arab Palestinians who fought against their new country as unfriendly, if not dangerous to Israel’s sovereignty and stability. The result was that many Arab Palestinians were expelled and their lands seized, leaving them as penniless refugees. This effectively made them highly militant against Israel.

However, while Jews mostly through Israel got significant war reparations from Germany for so much damage and death that Germany had caused them, the refugee Palestinians essentially got nothing. But the Palestinians were also a victim of Europe as the racism there had caused Jews to seek a major, highly populated sovereign homeland ending up displacing most Palestinians. So how did these displaced people who are living in squalor get just about nothing except enough money to keep them as struggling refugees with funds from the UN? That is indeed an interesting question.

So, Europe needs to also provide much more funding to end the squalor of Palestinian refugees and support Jewish aid groups and good-willed Israelis to help to this end and eventually reconstruct Gaza. Europe, from Russia, to Ukraine, Poland to Spain, and others well before Nazism need to also better recognize their culpability and need to help end this conflict. This is all while helping better to make the two state solution a greater possibility.
Hope with tangible just solutions must replace those of the disruptors and hateful wreckers of peace. Spreading Mahatma Gandhi thought more would seem as such and New Delhi should encourage as much in the Middle East region. For the world and the afflicted may not be able to stand much more war.

Peter Dash was a United Nations Association volunteer for years, educating for peace. He organised a major UN supported youth conference of dozens of country delegations to such an end.